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ARCHIE ADAMSEditor-in-Chief of the Handy Home Master
You know better than us just how annoying it can be to have limited access to a place that is within your own home. And we are sure that you have entertained the idea of possibly installing an attic ladder but you just did not get to it yet. Now that you realize that it will be a great addition keep reading our article to figure out exactly the proper way to go about it. Be ready to hit the closest convenience store to have all the necessary materials and tools covered and we will help with getting the best attic ladder.
Sizing your Attic Ladder
A standard size attic ladder is designed to fit an opening of 22.5 x 54 inches and you also have the option of supersizing up to 25 x 56 inches if you plan on using aluminum or even 30 x 54 inches if wood will be your material of choice. The minimum size for an attic access is 20 x 50 inches. Keep in mind that your house design might not be according to standards and the first step in this process will be to go ahead and take measurements. If it so happens that your attic opening is lower than the industry norm do not worry. There are plenty of sturdy aluminum ladders out there that can fit tighter spaces. What is a scuttle attic is a question we receive frequently because most houses have one and the term is confusing. A scuttle attic is an attic space that can be accessed using a hole in the ceiling. Drop everything you are currently doing and return to this article after you have thoroughly measured your attic opening as we will figure out how to install pull down attic stairs. Keep in mind that this task will require quite a few tools depending on the complexity and size of the job. We have you covered with the best tool chest options available.
- ROUGH OPENING DIMENSIONS: 22-1/2 x 54-inches
- CEILING HEIGHT: Fits 7-foot 8-inches to 10-foot 3-inches ceilings. Step Depth : 3.25 inches.Rail Size : 3.125 inch
- STURDY AND SAFE: Able to hold up to 375 pounds, with reinforced, grooved steps to provide maximum traction. Heavy-duty hinges not only help the ladder unfold smoothly, but they also keep it from wobbling dangerously as you climb
- CUSTOMIZABLE ELEGANCE: Elegant and smooth finish with adjustable spring tension; Ceiling Height Maximum (ft): 10.25
Cutting Ceiling Joist for Attic Access
Welcome back now that you have the measurements, we can proceed with figuring out what the best attic ladder will be for you and how to install an attic ladder by yourself. If you already have a telescopic attic ladder installed that we have some good news for you. There will be no need for cutting any ceiling joists and you can just do the installation based on the measurements of your old attic ladder. If you want to accommodate a larger ladder in that case we need to look at grabbing a saw and cutting some of the joist around the area because it will be unavoidable. Keep in mind that you will need to be extra careful at this point because you do not have the luxury of installing ceiling joists. In order to figure out how to find ceiling joists we will first have to figure out how far apart are ceiling joists. Locating the first ceiling joist will be the real task because the others will be placed 16 or 24 inches apart. Keep in mind that insulation will be lost once you make a hole larger than the previous one so you need to account for this aspect. Air conditioning will also lose effectiveness as the area it has to cover becomes larger. A solution to this issue is to purchase the best attic ladder that has an energy seal model available that will form a gasket around the attic opening. They can lower the air leakage by up to 60%. But what if you want to place the pull down attic stairs elsewhere? We have you covered and we can assist you into finding the best telescoping attic ladder out there too.
How to Install Attic Ladder
If you feel like your initial ladder placement wasn’t ideal we urge you to consider a new spot that will offer you the best headroom once inside the attic. You can figure out this spot by checking the layout of your roof and aiming as close to the middle as possible. A drywall saw cut is what we will be using in this step in order to create the attic entrance. Make sure that the space you are going to operate on is clear and that your saw will not hit anything that is placed in the attic. Follow the edges of the truss and cut the hole to fit the model of the best attic ladder you have chosen. A framing square will aid you greatly in order to achieve perfect lines.
There should be a new hole in your ceiling at the moment and well there is no going back at this point. Once the hole is sawed open you will need to install headers and both ends of the opening. Pay greater attention to the header that goes at the end of the stairs because that is where most force will be exerted. We suggest you go for a double header in that essential place and use lumber that is similar in size to the existing joists. Go ahead and nail up the pieces to each other using three nails that penetrate the joist in order to be properly secured. Double check that the headers are perfectly square as this will ensure a proper movement for the best attic ladder once it is installed and secure the counterbalance arms for attic ladders that should be found within the packaging.
And we have some more good news. If you have performed the task of sawing the ceiling and securing the headers in place then most of the job is done. Now we will need to clean up the place and attend to the finishing touches so that it will appear like the new ladder was there all along.
Now that the hole is done and slightly dusted we can go ahead and install our ladder. A temporary support will be used so that the ladder will remain in position once the weight falls on it. Follow the instructions on the manual from the best attic ladder you have purchased and make sure that your hinges are well supported before doing so. When all the screws that come with the ladder are secured in tightly we will have to look into the height of the ladder and how it translates to the room in your house that will accommodate it. In order to have your screws well fit we suggest the best impact driver on the market right now. Depending on the design of your chosen best attic ladder some trimmings might be in order. A floor to ceiling measurement will be in order and a hacksaw will be used on the ladder to remove any excess. After the excess ladder is removed, unfold the ladder all the way and attach the ladder feet that are included in the packaging. Mark holes on both sides, have them drilled and make sure that you keep the feet secured with the bolts provided.
Secure Attic Access
That hole in your ceiling does not look very appealing but we are just about to address this issue. Looks and insulation must be both addressed. Spray foam will be our weapon of choice so go ahead and fill out the entire gap that remains. If sanding the spray foam is not a satisfactory finish for your standards we strongly suggest purchasing a cover that can be found in most department stores. If you went for a cover make sure that you paint it accordingly so that it matches with the surroundings. It will still be somewhat ugly and out of place but this is about efficiency so sacrifices have to be made. Now that the installation is complete you can benefit from the best attic ladder and make storage less risky. We hope that this article was an useful resource and for any other home related DIY task you want to tackle visit us at HandyHomeMaster.